Farming on industrial scale

I live on 40 acres in rural Johnson County, an oasis of prairie, woodland and wetland in the midst of row crops. Here I am working to restore the native oak-hickory savanna and add more prairie. This is a huge project that requires hard labor, REAP money from the DNR, and an investment of time. I care deeply about our land — I’m even thinking of getting a topological map of it tattooed onto my arm!

If you drive around in the country in Iowa, you can see that ours is a highly industrialized landscape. Our rolling hills are beautiful, but you can’t ignore the fact that farming has reshaped our land. Our state’s economy relies on it — agribusiness is here to stay. 

But farming on that industrial scale creates problems.  Far too many of our waterways are polluted. I’ve seen this at my own place, where the frog populations in the swampy areas have declined. And as a state we’re contributing to pollution problems downstream — the “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico. Our state legislature has not passed a water quality bill, and the one under consideration won’t force agribusiness to use their billions in profits to clean up the water crisis they’ve created. 

Shouldn’t agribusiness be responsible for cleaning up the messes they make, instead of passing that cost to Iowa taxpayers?  Why are we giving them a break on this? It’s not like they’re going to pick up their farming operations and move somewhere else! The land is Iowa. We live on this land. We drink the water and breathe the air. Iowans need a water quality law that demands that agribusiness takes responsibility.

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